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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 August 2005, 19:23 GMT 20:23 UK
Floods sweep across Switzerland
Flooded street in Matte area of Bern
The Swiss capital did not escape the severe weather
Floods have brought chaos to a large swathe of central Switzerland, triggering landslides and cutting roads and railway lines.

At least six people are reported dead or missing, including two firefighters killed by a mudslide on Monday.

Floods halted rail services through the Alps towards Italy and several major roads were closed and villages cut off.

Floods have also hit towns in Austria and southern Germany and continue to affect Bulgaria and Romania.

The area affected in Switzerland stretches from the Bernese Alps to St Gallen in the north-east.

Torrential rain has lashed Switzerland for nearly three days, hampering efforts to clear debris and shore up flood defences.

Over 1,000 people have been evacuated.

Electricity was cut off and water contaminated as a consequence of inundation.

Shipping on part of the River Rhine - flowing into France and Germany - was also halted after the water level rose.

Alpine resorts hit

About 400 people were evacuated in the village of Ibach in canton Schwyz after the River Muota burst its banks.


The River Luetschine also flooded an area near Wilderswil and the Alpine resorts of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen were cut off.

Parts of the resort of Interlaken were also flooded and 150 people - many of them tourists - spent the night in civil defence facilities, the Swiss Info website reported.

There are fears that the swollen river Aare could cause even more damage in Interlaken and the capital, Bern, where 300 people had to be evacuated from a flooded residential area.

Swiss officials say the situation also remains critical around the swollen lakes of Thun, Brienz and Biel.

Elsewhere in Europe:

  • In Austria, over 100 houses were evacuated after a dam broke in the Tirol village of Pflach. Flooding has also affected the Lechtal Valley in Tirol and the Kleinwalsertal Valley in Vorarlberg. Stretches of motorway and dozens of roads have been closed in the west

  • In Bavaria, southern Germany, the Alpine resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen has been hit by floods and some people have been evacuated. A disaster alert has been declared in most of the Alpine region and in the city of Augsburg

  • In Bulgaria, where floods have killed at least 26 people and left 14,000 homeless, torrential rains flooded the north-western region of Montana

  • Widespread floods in Romania have killed 18 people over the past week, and destroyed or damaged more than 5,500 homes, but the country was spared on Tuesday

  • In Moldova torrential rain has damaged homes and other property near the capital Chisinau

  • Torrential rain in Slovenia has washed out roads in several towns in central and eastern districts. Croatia has declared a state of emergency along the Mura river, on the border with Slovenia, where it is shoring up flood defences.






BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the devastation caused by the floods




SEE ALSO:
Floods leave 16 dead in Romania
22 Aug 05 |  Europe
In pictures: Romania floods
22 Aug 05 |  In Pictures
Country profile: Switzerland
07 Jun 05 |  Country profiles


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